Expert Tips for Finding and Styling Vintage Halloween Decor

Give your home a spooky blast from the past.

vintage retro halloween decor

Better Homes & Gardens / Hiroyuki Nakai / Getty Images

Vintage Halloween decor has become increasingly popular over the last few years. From glass pumpkins to ceramic figurines, more and more people are turning to thrifted and vintage Halloween decor rather than buying new items. To get the scoop on the trend, we chatted with interior design expert and vintage enthusiast Lisa Dawson.

The award-winning British interior design writer, blogger, and content creator expresses her innate creativity through her resourceful approach to living. She uses vintage and repurposed pieces to create sustainable and functional spaces. She shares her insight into the vintage Halloween decor craze, where to look, and what for, to create a boo-tiful retro backdrop to your Halloween festivities.

Why is Vintage Halloween Decor So Popular?

With increasingly more vintage Halloween decor popping up, it’s hard not to wonder what sparked its grand revival. Thrifting in general is a response to fast furniture—a way of challenging modern consumerism with a more eco-conscious approach to home decor. The same applies to holiday decorations, too.

“There is a big move towards both decorating sustainably and reusing and repurposing what we already have,” Dawson says. “We are veering away from 'fast' interiors and looking more to second-hand and vintage homewares to furnish and style our homes—we want to be saving the planet while at the same time creating spaces that reflect our individuality and personality.”

Others find comfort in the nostalgia of vintage items, gaining a sense of satisfaction and contentment from the security of the past over the uncertain future. Or, maybe it’s simply that, to the modern eye, many vintage pieces have a natural eerie look, making them the perfect subject for a spooktacular Halloween display. A collection of vintage dolls is enough to send shivers down your spine in broad daylight, let alone on Halloween night.

Where to Look for Vintage Halloween Decor

Start with your immediate surroundings and work your way out. Have a rummage around your attic, basement, or garage; you might just stumble across a long-forgotten vintage gem. No luck? Try a visit to your grandparents’ house (or that of an older family friend or relative) to see if they have any decades-old decor items tucked away in storage.

Next, tackle your local thrift stores, garage and estate sales, and flea markets. They are prime deposits for unwanted treasures that need re-housing and can make a fun day out for those of you who enjoy a forage. “Second-hand furniture, thrift, and vintage stores are such a fabulous resource,” Dawson says. “Not only are you perpetuating the recycling process, but you're also adding unique items to your space, creating a home that is perfect for you.” Antique markets are another obvious place to turn for old finds, and if they don’t have what you’re looking for, they might just know someone who does.

If online shopping is more your thing, search for “vintage Halloween decor” on sites like Etsy, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, or other social networks. Everything But the House offers a curated selection of authentic antique and vintage items, and Poshmark’s Home Vintage section has a refined collection of Halloween-themed decor.

What to Buy and What to Skip

The things we surround ourselves with are like an extension of our character, and Halloween decor is no different. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure," Dawson says. “My interior ethos is that if you love it, it's perfect for you.” Forget what's trending on Instagram or what the neighbors might have out; they’re not the ones who are going to be living with it for the next few weeks or months. And, sometimes less is more. “Keeping it fairly simple means that you'll nail the fun elements of the season while still staying true to your style,” suggests Dawson.

We often think of Halloween as a children’s holiday, but it’s important to remember that, back in the day, American Halloween celebrations were intended for adults, not kids. It wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that it became more community-focused and child-friendly, so it’s worth being sensitive to this as you scour the field for old treasures. And be mindful of safety hazards too: It's best to avoid anything electric that may have old or faulty wiring.

vintage bench underneath halloween bat decor

Better Homes & Gardens / The Wilde Project

Vintage Halloween Decor Inspiration

Channel the spirit of Halloween's past with unique old-fashioned decor. Think figurines of cackling witches and black cats, creepy jack-o-lantern and skeleton cutouts, retro metal signs, gargoyles, and black candelabras. Or pay homage to the holiday’s origins by creating a Samhain altar: Surround portraits of your ancestors with harvest food items like gourds and apples, symbols of death, such as skeletons and ghosts, and divination tools like tarot cards, runes, or crystal balls.

Dawson suggests creating a Halloween tablescape that celebrates the earthy Autumnal palette; “scour the thrift shops for vintage fabric or tablecloths in Halloween colors and decorate your table ready for celebrations.” She also recommends layering a mix of vintage crockery in contrasting seasonal tones. Finally, “head to your garden for greenery for vases and add vintage decorations with handwritten name tags for a personal touch,” she says.

How to Care For and Store Vintage Halloween Decor Off-Season

When Halloween is over, do future you a favor and store your decorations in a methodical and practical manner. You’ll thank yourself for it next year.

Securely wrap fragile or breakable items in tissue paper, newspaper, or bubble wrap. Then, stick a label on it clearly marked “fragile.” You’ll want to store these away from anything heavy that could cause damage. It's also a good idea to store breakable items in a hard-sided container (like a plastic storage bin) to avoid accidental damage.

In fact, we suggest you label everything and be specific. Not only will this help you distinguish between the holiday seasons, but you’ll also know exactly what’s inside each box. Not only will this save you time, but you can avoid unnecessarily moving fragile or breakable items to help keep them safe. Store similar items together and pick categories that make sense to you. Transparent containers are also good for this, as you can see the contents without opening them.

The end of the season is also a good time to take stock of what items you have and donate the things you don't want anymore. If you've let an item sit in storage for a few seasons, it's probably time to donate it.

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